The Captain trained his sights on Ensign Spangler. “Mr. Spangler, I want you and the Executive Officer to analyze the readings ,to double, triple and quadruple check the readings, to be sure the hypothesis that Commander Larsen reached is accurate. Use whatever resource is necessary. I also want full sensor sweeps in one-second intervals from every single sensor system we have. I want to know when it was here, I want to know when it left, I want to know what direction it went to and I want to especially know if it is coming back for seconds,” he ordered.
Spangler looked up from the results from the water sample he had collected. His people had completed the analysis, but the results were suddenly far less interesting. Albert nodded in reply, before looking back down to his console. He began initiating the sensors protocols prescribed; the task made exponentially easier by the extra power allocated by Lieutenant Lisald. Lisald, he thought, before glancing at his former section chief. It was fairly recently that the Bajoran fellow caused a cringe in Ensign Spangler; but he’d slowly come to accept his help, if not enjoy his company.
It was at that moment the Captain addressed Lisald, “Lietuenant Lisald, you used to be the Chief Science Officer on this ship. Transfer your duties to Ensign Robinson. You will be assigned to the Executive Officer and Ensign Spangler. Assist them in any way you can.”
“Aye, Captain,” Lisald said, tapping the command on his console to call his Assistant Chief of Operations, Ensign Andy Robinson to the Bridge to take over the duties. Lisald had been in the same class that everyone on this ship that went to the Academy had been in, discussing singular First Contact events that didn’t go as planned, or in this case, went terribly wrong. He also remembered hearing about the Crystalline Entity in other classes, about how the devastation was complete to organic matter. He was both thrilled and apprehensive about being able to study the event up close. The prospect of coming face to face with the Entity was too much to imagine. Standing, he made his way to the back of the Bridge to his very first Bridge Duty Station, Science Station 1, where his friend was standing, watching him approach. “What have we got, Al?”
It took a moment for Spangler to respond. Eventually he looked towards the Bajoran, thought for a moment, before eventually settling for a shrug and, “Hell if I know.” Albert brought up the actively occurring scans of the formerly occupied planet. “I can tell you what isn’t there; which is a lot more than what actually is… there.”
Lisald folded his arms. “Well, its a place to start.” He leaned forward, then tapped at a few commands. “Maybe the absence of what is supposed to be there can help us determine what happened here. Have you read the reports from the Enterprise about the Crystalline Entity? The devastation was complete and absolute.”
“Well, sure. I remember it from the Academy; I don’t remember.” Albert tilted his head slightly, “It destroyed.. absorbed.. ate? All the organic matter of any sort. Left everything else. Very clean, for what it’s worth.” He continued to cycle through scans, finding nothing of note other than what they already knew. “There were high levels of certain metals.. lanthanides and hydrochlorides were also higher than anything that could of been naturally occurring. Look at this.” Albert brought up the water sample analysis, “Got this from a.. municipal source, I suppose.”
The water sample that Spangler pulled up was telling. There weren’t lanthanides and hydrochlorides in the parts per million that were to be expected from a cataclysmic event such as the one that happened on the planet below them. No, it was in the parts per hundred thousands, which was orders of magnitude higher than he expected. “Holy Prophets,” he exclaimed. “Starfleet could come in here and mine that stuff, there is so much.” He was being rhetorical, of course, but only just so. He tapped a few commands on the console. “I wonder if there is a way we could tune our sensors to look for the decayed particles through space.” He wracked his brain for a moment. “How did the Enterprise track it 30 years ago?” He couldn’t remember.
Spangler wrinkled his forehead, wishing he had more than skimmed the reading that his cohort was referring to. “Well.. it’s not magic. The thing is taking massive amounts of biological matter, and converting into energy. Physics are still a thing; that matter has to go somewhere.” Spangler began tasking individual scanner pallets away from the planet, and into the immediate space around it. “We have a good idea of what to look for, unaccounted for bitrious material and the like; there’s a good chance it’s leaving a trail wherever it went.”
Picking up on what Spangler was putting down, continued, “And that trail should, in theory, be like the yellow brick road leading us right to Oz. Excellent work! Lets see where this bugger is,” he said, leaning in to help calibrate the sensors accurately. He could almost imagine the ship skimming the trail right to the Crystalline Entity. Before much longer, they would have something to give to Lieutenant Commander Larsen and Captain Bane. Lisald felt good about being able to give something to the two senior officers of the ship. He wondered if Spangler felt as good as Lisald did about this.
The sense of excitement exuding from Lisald had become very familiar to Albert, and it still made him cringe inside a bit. That slightly manic look always seemed to lead to more work for him somehow. Spangler rolled his eyes with a slight grin, “Whatever you say, Mr. Vaat.”
Lieutenant junior grade Lisald Vaat
Chief Operations Officer
Ensign Albert Spangler
Chief Science Officer